I want to thank all of you for responding to my blog entry on being scammed. The only problem is that there were hundreds of comments, and there's no way I can respond to everybody without using up two or three full days.
That said, a lot of information was given to me. Some of it concerned good virus protection programs that are free. A lot of you said I should abandon windows completely and go with Linux, which has such a small share of the market the hackers aren't interested in it. It's also free, which is a plus. The majority said never to trust remote connections, at least from unsolicited callers. My problem was that I thought these guys really were from Iolo, so they slipped in under my radar.
What I want to thank everybody for in particular is that nobody said, "You get what you deserve when you do stupid things." I appreciate that. Everybody makes mistakes, and it's nice when you're allowed to do that and learn something from it without people putting you down.
And that brings me to some information that may be helpful to other people who make a mistake, even if it's not the kind I made.
I went to my bank to cancel the credit card I used to pay for the original "Lifetime contract" and, in the process, asked if the fraud division of the bank might be interested in knowing about the site that charged my card. They maintain a list of suspect or known fraudulent sites and I've received calls from the fraud folks in the past asking if I made this or that purchase. I've been alerted twice that my card information may have been compromised and it's probably kept me from losing money.
When I explained the whole thing to the fraud guy, he asked if I wanted to dispute the original fee. I told him I did approve that charge, and then he asked me, "Yes, but did you actually get what you paid for?" Since these people are actually IMPERSONATING Iolo employees, and selling Iolo products with what have to be stolen activation codes, and since I no longer have access to any "lifetime" services (because I'll never talk to them again, much less let them on my computer again), he said, "You really did not get what was promised. You should dispute it and let us take the money back."
All they wanted, other than a short statement from me about the facts and circumstances, was something from the third party computer repair guy who had to undo what they did to tank my system. He was happy to do that.
So I might get my money back, and the scammers will be denied any payment at all for what they did. If everybody did that, they'd go broke. So remember that, even if you approved something, if it turns out to be fraudulent or a scam, you might still be able to get your money back. You'll have to get a new card, but that's a minor inconvenience, compared to being out hundreds of dollars.
Finally, I know that these couple of blog entries have nothing to do with being an author, or you being readers.
Except that I think of you all as family. And I'd warn my family members about something like this.
So I won't get in the habit of bogging down my SOL blog with a bunch of unrelated stuff.
Thanks for all the encouraging comments, along with the advice. I appreciate it all.